23 Jan 2014

Do Not Disturb–the spam epidemic in India

Most Indian service providers seem to believe that just because you bought services from them means they now have a license to spam you on your email address or cell phone.
Anyway, for the last few weeks, I have been making a conscious effort to get myself off all these spam databases. Here has been my experience -

Most mutual funds – these guys seem to have the same service provider at the back end (looks like mailcenter.in). Fortunately, there is an unsubscribe link in every email. But here is the silliness – when you click on it, it takes you to a page where the unsubscribe action is confirmed with a message that the customer will get an email confirming it. Seriously? Didn’t I just tell you I don’t want any more emails from you?
Bajaj Allianz – insisted that I hand over all the contacts where I am being “disturbed”. Plus also confirm if I am an existing customer. Fine, I did that. And when I clicked “confirm”, I get a message that their “executive” (I love these titles, only in India!) will contact me soon. Why? Am I not telling you to not contact me again unless its directly related to the policy you issued to me?
Reminders – this is another favourite of almost all Indian service providers. The ones that really annoyed me recently have been Airtel and Apollo Munich. They both have systems that have no clue about payments already made. Apollo Munich was the worst, sending a reminder SMS every week even though I had paid the premium and had the receipt. The cherry on the cake was the automated reminder call from Apollo Munich a week before the due date. It was made around 9:40am which is fine but I was in London that day – so I woke up at 4am for a robot call and then got hit with the roaming bill. When I complained to Apollo  Munich asking why their IT systems aren’t working (why can’t the payment system talk to the reminder setup?), the CSR seems to have only seen the word “IT” and responded saying there are no income tax benefits on the policy I hold. And this was followed by another email advising me to simply ignore the reminders. How do you ignore a telephone call in the middle of the night? Just brilliant!
And don’t get me started on those who demand every bit of contact information to even give a quote. Yes, I am talking about you – ICICI Prudential, HDFC Life, policybazaar.com and many more. Why do you need my cellphone number and email address to give a quote online? Thank you Bajaj Allianz for not insisting on these details and still giving me a quote. There is a reason you still have my business, despite the poorly designed opt out page.